Strategies for Success

Strategies for Success

In this sixth and final article, I will take you through some strategies that could help boards lead their organisations to success.

In a series of articles, I’ve been looking at examples of negative and positive board behaviours. The negative behaviours are represented by the ostrich, goose, elephant and wolf. The positive behaviours are represented by the lion and the eagle.

In this sixth and final article, I will take you through some strategies that could help boards lead their organisations to success.

In 2002, when he was United States Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld introduced the world to three concepts that organisations need to be aware of by populatising the work of two American psychologists, Jospeh Luft (1916-2014) and Harrington Ingham (1916 – 1995) in their development of the Johari window to avoid:

• ‘known knowns’ – things that we know we know
• ‘known unknowns’ – the things we know we don’t know
• ‘unknown unknowns’ – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.

By accepting that these areas exist we can take steps to plug gaps in our knowledge and adopt a visionary strategy and a culture that means we challenge, question and innovate. But how do we adapt to the rapid pace of change and the work of our competitors?

Blue Ocean Strategy is a book by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne that outlines a strategy that can make your competition irrelevant. The blue oceans are new areas of business that others might not have considered.

From the military world we get the ‘red ocean strategy’, which is a conventional approach to beating the competition. Red oceans represent the known market space, all the industries that exist today.

Instead of fighting in the crowded red oceans, you can take to the blue oceans where demand is created through value innovation which pursues something new and different at a competitive price.

This idea is continued in Play Bigger by Al Ramadan, Dave Peterson, Christopher Lochhead and Kevin Maney. They studied successful, innovative companies and discovered ‘category kings’ who design their own categories and then dominate those new markets.

They examined what they called ‘category kings’, companies such as Amazon, Salesforce, Uber and IKEA who solved problems people often didn’t know they had through new ways of living, shopping and doing business.

By applying category design, the authors said, companies can create new demand where none existed and change customer expectations and buying habits.

The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek tells us that leaders need to embrace an infinity mindset to build inspiring and innovative organisations that use ‘blue ocean strategy’ and ‘category kings’.

In finite games, like football or chess, the rules are fixed, and it’s clear when someone has won or lost. Business, like politics, is an infinite game. The players come and go, the rules can change, and there is no defined endpoint. There are no winners or losers; there is only ‘ahead’ and ‘behind’.

Simon identified that many of the struggles that organisations face exist simply because their leaders are trying to use a finite mindset in an infinite game. Those who adopt an infinite mindset can build stronger, more innovative, more inspiring organisations.

An infinite mindset is about everyone winning collectively at the same time. It does not mean that for my organisation to do well someone else has to do badly.